New Year's Day brought with it the premiere of Arie Luyendyk Jr.'s season of The Bachelor. Like all Bachelor and Bachelorette premieres, the episode introduced the contestants, of whom there are more than two dozen and it's hard to keep them all straight at first, so they have to do crazy stuff to stand out. They have to ask themselves "how can I make sure Arie (and America) remembers the moment I stepped out of the limo on the first night?" Not everyone comes up with a good answer, but some people roll up in a Formula One car and then take off their helmet and whip their striking white gold hair. And by "some people" I mean Maquel.
This season premiere was a little lighter on crazy stuff than usual. It lacked a certain je ne sais WHAAABOOOOM. But there were still plenty of memorable moments and kooky characters. Eleven of them, I'd say. Let's review.
11. Samuel's advice
Before he got to the mansion, Arie paid a visit to Sean Lowe, his friend and the guy who was chosen to be the Bachelor instead of Arie after their season of The Bachelorette, and Sean's wife Catherine and their baby Samuel. Since Sean is the only Bachelor to ever marry the woman he initially proposed to on the show, Arie went seeking his counsel. He jokingly asked Samuel for his advice, and Sean answered "always treat the girls with respect and be a gentleman," in a weird little baby-puppet voice. It made imagine that the baby really was telling Arie not to be a wham-bam-thank you ma'am dog, and it creeped me out. Also the fact that Sean thought that needed to be said made me worried that Arie might not have the best intentions. We'll see.
10. The four Laurens
This one would rank higher if we didn't already know there were four Laurens, but the way it was handled was really funny. They put them all in one "Lauren limo" and had them come out one after the other, much to the bemusement of Arie and the other girls. If I were a Lauren, this would really shake my confidence, but hey, The Bachelor is a psychologically cruel show.
9. The New Orleans fake-out
Lauren J. put Mardi Gras beads on Arie's neck to show him where she was from. When he quite reasonably said "New Orleans," she said no, she's actually from another town in Louisiana. Uh, fam, you can't correct someone when you're wrong. "Here's a Statue of Liberty snowglobe. Can you guess where I'm from?" "New York City?" "No, Syracuse."
8. Lauren G.'s safeword
The Lauren who made the best impression was Lauren G., who had Arie close his eyes. She put a piece of pineapple in his mouth and had him say what it was. Then she told him pineapple is her safeword. That's a delightfully convoluted way of telling someone you're kinky.
7. Amber sees a lot of...
Amber bricked her shot, but at least she missed memorably. She told Arie that she owns a tanning salon, so she sees a lot of d---s and hopes he isn't another one. Great strategy. Guys love it when you talk about other dudes' penises and then awkwardly neg them. Amber could write a book on lady pick-up artistry.
6. A preponderance of car puns
These girls are all hack comedians. Like a third of them made some kind of pun about cars or racing to Arie the race car driver. Bibiana told him he gets her heart racing. Brittane said "they say you're not supposed to put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari, but why not an Arie?" and she put a sticker that said "Nice Butt" on his trunk. Arie's so used to this that when Ashley got out holding a checkered flag he said "are we going to make the finish line?" He's writing their own jokes for them! "The race car jokes crack me up," he said with a little tinge of irony. The only good joke was when Ali had him smell her armpits and then asked "was that not the best pit stop of your life?" No one saw that one coming.
5. Jenna's weird energy
Jenna seemed fun in a peculiar sort of way. From the moment she got out of the limo, she was very animated and talked not just with her hands but her whole arms. Inside, she gave Arie the world's most awkward pedicure, couldn't sit still, and seemed unable to express a coherent thought. Arie couldn't figure out what she was saying she does for a living (for the record, she's a social media manager). She's a wild card.
4. Enigmatic Bekah
Bekah — who is probably the youngest Bachelor contestant in several years — seems like she has a different personality than most Bachelor contestants, too. A little more of a poetic soul than we're used to. There have been a lot of smart women on The Bachelor over the years, but not many who seem like they could have studied art history at Columbia but dropped out to be an actress. Do you know what I mean? Her diction is more precise than anyone else's. Her description of the excitement of the feeling of liking someone but not knowing if they like you back was evocative. Bekah got a lot of screentime in the premiere, but it all felt deserved, because she's interesting to watch in a way that people in this franchise just aren't usually. (Plus she's gorgeous. That can't be overlooked.) I don't think she's going to win, but I think she's going to be around for awhile. It won't work out, because she has genuine thoughts about what excites her in life and he's excited by excitement.
3. Tia's little weiner
Tia is from Weiner, Arkansas (she's a good friend of Raven Gates', producers' favorite girl who hasn't been the Bachelorette, who got in a nice plug for her clothing store during Tia's intro video). To help Arie remember who she is, she gave him a little plastic peen. "Please don't tell me you already have a little weiner," she joked. This is the classic Bachelor innuendo that you always want from the premiere. Tia delivered. And Arie was a little flustered. It was funny. "I do not have this," he said, which is not a witty response. "So you did good." She did do good.
2. Kendall's whole thing
Kendall isn't interesting in the natural way that Bekah is, but that's okay, because her commitment to quirkiness is impressive. If she was only played the ukulele, we'd roll our eyes and be like "how adorkable." If she was only into taxidermy, we'd be like "how amorbidle." (I just made that up. Let's see if I can make it happen.) But the fact that she made up a ukulele song to sing to a taxidermy seal that went "I love you seal, you are my friend, we'll be together til my life ends cuz you're already dead, taxidermy on this journey of love" makes it seem like she might be a genuine weirdo. This show needs more whimsical morbidity. (Sidebar: a lot of the intro videos were recycled from the "Countdown to Arie" special, which is a little bit of a rip-off, innit.)
1. Chelsea got the first impression rose
Chelsea, who is very mysterious, has marked herself as the season's villain by being rude and double-dipping her time with Arie on night one. She was rewarded for her selfishness with the coveted first impression rose. This makes her an enemy to all the other girls. There's nothing crazy about this. This happens almost every season. What's crazy is the fact that this happens just like this almost every season and we never get tired of it. Every time she interrupts we boo and every time her bad behavior is rewarded we're surprised. We have easily manipulated goldfish brains. She's going to say she's not here to make friends and we're going to love that she's embracing the cliché. The Bachelor is back, baby!
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.